Iowa wants to increase the habitat for monarch butterflies to keep them from being endangered

Besides the trees changing colors there are monarchs and other butterflies to watch, photo shared by Lynn Garrison, 9-21-14

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials have set new goals for monarch butterfly habitat to help keep the insect from being listed as an endangered species.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa Department of Natural Resources wants to have 480,000 to 830,000 acres of habitat across the state. That’s room for about 127 million to 188 million new milkweed stems, which is the only plant monarch butterflies lay their eggs on. The goal: plant about double Iowa’s estimated amount of milkweed.

It would be part of a national effort to get 1.3 billion new milkweed stems for the monarch’s migration.

Resources department director Chuck Gipp told station KCRG that, without adequate action to increase the monarch numbers, it could get listed. Iowan landowners then would have to contend with national species protection laws.